Who Is at Fault for Left-Hand Turn Accidents?

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2019 | Car Accidents

You may have heard this odd fact at some point:
UPS trucks rarely make
left turns. In addition to being a fun bit of trivia, there is a good reason
why UPS drivers avoid left turns: they are both dangerous and they waste fuel.
But unless you drive a UPS truck, you probably make left-hand turns when

The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) reports that
left-hand turns are a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents in the United
States. Yet the reality is that we all have to make these turns from time to
time, as it often is not practical (or even possible) to get to a destination
without making a left turn.

In most cases, the driver making a left turn
will be held responsible for any accident that occurs as a result of the turn.
However, there are exceptions to this broad rule. Read on to learn more about
Florida law on left turns and when another party may be held liable.

Florida Law on Left Turn Accidents

In Florida, there is a presumption that
left-hand turn accidents are caused by the driver who turned left. Under
Florida statute 316.151(1)(b), a driver
who wants to turn left must do so from the extreme left hand lane lawfully
available for making a turn, and should make the turn in a way that leaves the
lane available to the traffic moving in the road being crossed. A violation of
this law is a traffic infraction for a moving violation.

Under this law, drivers cannot make left turns
from the middle lane or from the right lane. They are required to go to the
furthest left lane to make a left turn.

More importantly, any driver making a left-hand
turn in Florida must yield right-of-way to drivers who are approaching in the
opposite direction. If the driver making the turn across traffic or an
intersection does not do so, then that driver will generally be held
responsible for any accident that may happen as a result.

Finally, drivers making a turn (right or left)
must use their turn signal. A turn
signal must be given continuously for at least 100 feet before turning. Failure
to do so may result in an accident — and a citation for a moving violation.

While a traffic infraction is a noncriminal
offense, it can be important in analyzing liability for an accident. If a
person makes a left-hand turn at an intersection without signaling or from a
middle lane, you could get cited for a moving violation. In addition, the fact
that you did not follow Florida law may be considered in the overall determination
of who was at fault for an accident.

Determining Responsibility for Left-Hand Turn Crash

In most cases, drivers making left turns will
be crossing traffic and must yield right-of-way to oncoming traffic under
Florida law, as described above. If there is a collision, the motorist who made
the left-hand turn will usually be liable for any damage that results.

There are exceptions to this general rule. For
example, assume that a driver is waiting to make a left-hand turn and proceeds
once the coast is clear. If a car is speeding in the opposite direction and
strikes the turning car, then the driver making the left turn may not be found
responsible for the crash — because it was the speeding car’s traffic violation
that caused the accident, and not the driver who carefully waited until it was
safe to cross the road.

Alternatively, a driver making a left turn may
not be able to see the road because of an obstructed view; in that situation,
the government agency who designed and maintained the road may be responsible
for any accident that occurred at the intersection. In some cases, a passing
motorist may wave a driver through, indicating that it is safe to make a left
turn where the driver’s view is obstructed. If the driver makes the turn,
trusting the other motorist’s view, any accident that occurs could be the fault
of the motorist that waved the driver through — not the driver.

Crashes involving left-hand turns can often
lead to serious or even fatal injuries. In 2017, motor vehicle accidents involving
improper turns led to 40
fatalities, 346 incapacitating injuries and 1,024 non-incapacitating injuries.
These injuries are often sustained by those in the car making the turn — which
is usually moving at a much slower rate than the vehicle traveling on the road
being crossed.

An accident report can
often paint a picture of how a left turn accident occurred. After a thorough
investigation, your lawyer can make a claim for compensation — whether you were
the driver making the left turn or the other vehicle in the accident.

How a Personal Injury Attorney in Miami Can Help

While left-hand turn car accidents may seem
straightforward, they often involve complex fact patterns. Even if you were the
driver in a left turn accident, you may be able to recover for your injuries.
An experienced personal
injury attorney in Miami
can help.

At Kaire & Heffernan, we are dedicated to
working with victims of car accidents. Based in Miami, we offer services in
both English and Spanish to our clients — and never charge a fee unless we
recover compensation for you. Contact our office today at 305-376-7860 or online to schedule a
free initial consultation.

Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 15 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for 4 years.